RESET (2017) review


Produced by Jackie Chan and directed by Korean helmer Yoon Hong-seung aka Chang, Reset unfolds in the near future, when time travel is becoming a reality: the discovery and use of portals to parallel universes allows scientists to experiment on sending living tissue back in the past – though only two hours back for now. Xia Tian (Yang Mi) is part of a research team that is on the verge of a major breakthrough, when her son Doudou a kidnapped and held for ransom by a mysterious man (Wallace Huo). If she wants to get her son back, she is to deliver the man all of her research. But even after she complies, her son is killed, and she has no choice but to send herself back two hours in the past to try and save him. With every failed attempt she starts again and in doing so, she creates multiple versions of herself, all dead set on rescuing Doudou.

In many ways, Reset feels more like an efficient pilot for a high-concept TV series, than like a fully-fledged science-fiction film (which is praising with faint damning). With a plot that is a collage from many previous time-travel films, characters so thinly defined you almost expect them not to have names, a slick but bland aesthetic and a brisk running time that doesn’t allow for much philosophical questioning or poetic exploration of its central concept, it sometimes feels more assembled than written and directed. Still, there are flashes of intelligence and novelty (one version of Xia Tian is more cold-blooded and violent, for clever reasons which we won’t divulge), one or two gripping set-pieces (with one unfolding in a giant dumpster, of all places), streaks of visual brilliance (Xia Tian’s passage through the time machine are strikingly rendered), a strong score by Bang Jun-seok, and a welcome dash of dark humour (especially involving a ripped-off eyeball). And it helps that Yang Mi is, if not always quite convincing, at least fiercely appealing, while Wallace Huo fills in with sheer charisma the emptiness of his villain role, and Chin Shih Chieh takes a role vastly beneath his talents and has shifty fun with it. All in all Reset is simply straightforward, unpretentious entertainment.

Long Story Short: A science-fiction thriller both frustratingly under-developped and refreshingly brisk and unpretentious. ***

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  1. I’m pretty biased against Yang Mi, but maybe this will be redeemable? Huo seems to be doing pretty well for himself in China so kudos to him.

    • I guess Yang Mi has done a lot of fluff, but I think as a dramatic actress she has potential.


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